Monday, 17 November 2008

grayshott days

Here is my mum just before WW2 with Ben (the doggie). And here is Granny, Mum and Ben in the garden at at Jubilee Cottage in Grayshott, a village in Hampshire, England - about 40 miles north of the Royal Navy base in Portsmouth.

These pictures are of Uncle John, Granny and Ben at Hillview. Granny worked at Hillview. Uncle John worked as a telegraph boy before the war. That job was considered an essential service and so he was expected to keep working for the post office until he was called up.

Uncle John had a band before the war. Uncle John played the accordion and the trumpet player was Toby. They played at dances in Grayshott and the villages and towns close by. All the men were called up (John and the drummer to the army and Toby to the navy) but Grandad kept the band going while they were away. He did not play an instrument but he booked the gigs and hired replacement players. The pianist was not called up and stayed with the band all through the war. Whenever any original band members were home on leave, they came to visit Granny and Grandad, snack on Scotch pancakes and jam, and play in the band. All three returned more or less safely at the end of the war and the Playtimers were able to continue as before.

Mum was allowed to go the dances even though she was quite young because her dad was there to look out for her. In this photo she is 13 -- this is what she wore as a bridesmaid that year. We do not have a picture of her dressed for the dance. Once a neighbour, a local store owner, told Granny that Mum had been kissing a boy in her doorway after the dance but Granny knew it was not true because Mum had been walking home with Grandad at the time. For once she had an alibi! Neighbours often told Granny tales about Mum -- especially the Miss Maules who ran the library at the crossroads and could keep an eye on all goings on from their second storey window.

Wednesday, 12 November 2008

horsham days

Harry Mollins' first stop was the English market town of Horsham, West Sussex.

Harry trained at Camp Raffey near Horsham until April 12, 1916. He speaks about the nearly constant rain and physical drills, writing letters and waiting for letters, going to church, reading books such as Martin Eden by Jack London, and a Horsham social life that included teas, theatre, dates (but no-one as lovely as the girl at home), musical evenings, skating and, of course, bike rides.

This photo is of Harry Mollins (far right), Harry and Fred Fownes (I think) and an unidentified friend on rented bikes in Horsham.

Sunday, Dec. 26, 1915
Paraded to church again this morning, the same church as yesterday. It was a beautiful morning, clear and warm. We were dismissed in town and a number of us went to a restaurant for dinner. Fred Fownes, Harry [Fownes] and I hired bicycles for a few hours and had a delightful ride thru the country. Fred Fownes and I then went to tea at Mrs. Hulme’s. In the evening met the same two girls we were with last night and went for a walk. Got back to the camp about ten o’clock.

A few years ago my father retraced some of Harry's travels in England and this is Carl Mollins, Harry's son, on that same Horsham Street almost 90 years later.

a cheery heart

That is Harry Mollins, my grandfather, in front on the left. I think that the man second from the left in the back row and the man on the far right in the back row might be the Fownes brothers. It is just a guess made from looking at the picture of Harry and friends on bikes in the next post.

Harry Mollins was born on November 11, 1895. Just a few weeks before his 20th birthday, on Wednesday, October 6, 1915, he enlisted:

Have wanted to enlist for some time, feeling that it is my duty, but several things of importance have held me from doing so. Have about made up my mind to go to Sussex [New Brunswick, 67 km southwest of Moncton] Saturday and enlist there. Heard the Fownes boys were going also. Went to see them today and they informed me that there was an opening for some men in the Siege Battery stationed at Charlottetown, P.E.I., and that they were going over. Skipped school in the afternoon and went to see the recruiting officer from the Battery, who was in town. He said everything was O.K. Was examined by the doctor and prepared to leave on Thursday. Everyone surprised to hear that I was going.

Friday, Oct. 8th, 1915
Went out to camp early this morning. Filled out papers and were then sent to the doctors to be examined. The other Moncton boys of our crowd are, Harry Fownes, Fred Scott, Arthur Stone, Bert Price, Graham Swetnam, and Fred Fownes and Cal McCoy, who have already passed. Went to the doctors in fear and trembling. Could imagine no worse happening than failure to pass the examination. To our great joy however we passed O.K. Went back to camp with glad tidings and were "sworn in." Inoculated and got passes for home. The last was a surprise as we did not expect get home again. Have been stopping at the Revere Hotel.
And left for England on Sunday, November 28, 1915:
Arose about seven A.M. and found the ship under way. For only a couple of hours was land in sight and then it gradually faded away in the distance and was lost to sight. While I am glad that we are on our way to England to take up our training, and will be even happier when the word comes to proceed to the front, there is also a certain feeling of sadness comes over me as I think that perhaps never again may I see Canada, never again on this earth look upon the faces of those I love. But this feeling passes and I face the future with a cheery heart as I think of that happy day when this terrible war shall have ceased and I return again to home, to friends and loved ones. So, Canada, “Till we meet again, Farewell.”

P.S. My grandfather did see Canada again, married my grandmother, became a minister in the Baptist Church, had four children and a relatively short but important life.

Tuesday, 11 November 2008


Uncle John Levett (British Army WW2 - North Africa and Italy)

Grandad Herbert John Levett (British Navy)
& Joan (Levett) Mollins (WRENS, 1948)

where next

Sunday, November 11, 1917 Weather: Showers

Were relieved this morning at 9 A.M. Was never so thankful for anything in my life. Was wet thru & coated with mud from head to foot. Returned to billets & turned in for a sleep. Stayed in bed all day. We fired 240 rounds during our twenty-four hours duty. This is my twenty-second birthday. Spent my last birthday in England and the one before that in Canada. Where shall I spend the next? I hope in Canada.

Entry in diary of Harry Mollins (my grandfather). This photo is Harry in 1915. More here @ DadzCorner.

remembering bliss

My grandmother, Vera Grace (Nickerson) Mollins, and great aunt, Ethel M. (Nickerson) Taylor, visit the grave of my great uncle Bliss Nickerson (March 23, 1887 - May 16, 1918) in Lapugnay, France in 1957.

Saturday, 8 November 2008

always a campaign

Thursday, 6 November 2008


Wednesday, 5 November 2008


Tuesday, 4 November 2008


happy election day american cousins!

Saturday, 1 November 2008

hallo tweens

story juice posts and pictures
by tracey mollins are licensed under a

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